College expenses have been rising at an astronomical rate over the past 20 years to the point where they are out of reach of most people. Unless your parents are in the over $200,000 income level, or maybe you are an only child, finding money for college will be a tremendous challenge. You must spend researching and apply for financial help, or you will be left with a tremendous debt that will take years to repay.
1. Grants are the Best Option
Grants make up about 40% of student aid overall, but they may not be accessible if your parents make over $60,000 per year. The Federal Pell Grants and Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants make up the largest program. You apply for these through your college’s financial aid office. You should apply as soon as you are accepted since money runs out quickly.
Most states also offer grants and you can usually find out information at your high school, or on the state’s web site. Most colleges also offer grants to attract a desirable candidate. This is not always tied to financial need and is more a tuition discount for the best students.
2. Scholarships Help, but Take a Lot of Work
Scholarships are designed for students with special qualifications. The most common are for athletic or academic achievement, but many are available for student’s special interests, group membership, location, or financial need. There are also a number of companies that offer scholarship contests as a way of obtaining leads. These are great because the only requirement is being over 18 and living in the US.
3. Part-Time Jobs Can Help
There are a number of opportunities both on and off campus for part time jobs that are great for supplementing your living expenses and putting a little cash in your pocket. You usually have to wait until the semester is about to begin so don’t count a whole lot on these positions. Also you need to be careful not to sign up for too many hours since your real job is to get an education. Check with the Financial Aid Office since many of the on campus jobs are based on need.
4. ROTC, VA Benefits, and Armed Forces Recruiting Programs.
Our Military is a gold mine when looking at money for college options. There is one hitch that may not agree with you. You must serve in the Armed Forces to qualify. I served and believe me, it is an education by itself with many opportunities. Sign up through a recruiting program and after you have typically served 3 years, you can receive monthly benefits, tuition assistance, and of course you also qualify for VA Benefits.
The ROTC program is only available at certain schools but also offers monthly benefits for taking Military courses that prepare you to receive an Officers Commission upon graduation. You normally are required to serve 3 years, or 4 years if you also receive a ROTC scholarship which pays some tuition in addition to a monthly check.
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